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Tue., Oct. 6, 2009, 6:57 p.m.

Thoughts about WSU’s day


COUGARS

Practice today was quite energetic, maybe a little surprising considering the outcome last Saturday. Before practice, Paul Wulff met with the media. After, it was Jeff Tuel's turn. We've got both, plus some practice notes, including a starting linebacker who may be out. Read on.


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• We're going to summarize the day chronologically, starting with the interesting comments from the Pac-10 coaches on their conference call and finishing with Tuel's thoughts. ... Arizona coach Mike Stoops is getting ready for UW and he was asked about the Huskies quick turnaround under Steve Sarkisan. His comments were interesting. He praised the the new coaching staff for their ability to do "a great job of utilizing their personnel," Stoops said. "Washington has always had good personnel no matter what the story is behind the record. They are a program that has been around a long time and has a lot of tradition, so they've done a decent job recruiting there over the last several years even if their record may not have indicated that on the field because we've recruited a lot of those players, or tried to recruit them. So they have good players. They are just organized differently." ... Oregon State's Mike Riley also mentioned UW's move as an example of the parity and balance in the conference. The improvement among the conference's defenses, Riley said, keeps teams in games and makes each week tough. ... Dennis Erickson talked about his team's woes up front on the offensive line. The Sun Devils have suffered an inordinate amount of injuries there (sound familiar?) and it's made a difference for their offense. Erickson was asked the reason for the injuries and he didn't have one, other than it's such a crowded area with such big physical bodies that injuries are bound to happen.

• Wulff's comments on the Pac-10 call started with the Cougars injuries up front, and he mentioned "we've been snake bit." He said it seems when a team has lots of depth, it rarely has injuries. When there is little depth, there always seems to be a lot. ... Wulff said he's run into ASU coach – and one of his old college coaches – Dennis Erickson on the recruiting trail and Pac-10 meetings. I asked him if it felt strange. "Ya, it is a little bit," Wulff said, "because he was a former coach of mine and my respect towards him. At the same time it feels like, obviously, a lifetime ago as well. I guess it was quite a while ago." ... Wulff said Brian Danaher would be back this week, but he didn't feel Zack Williams won't be available. Still, Wulff said, the offensive line will probably start the same against ASU as it did against Oregon. At practice, Danaher wore a yellow, non-contact jersey but did take some snaps at right guard. Williams also took snaps at left guard. So we'll see what happens. ... Most of the injured players will probably be back after the bye against Cal, Wulff said. But Kevin Kooyman may not be. Wulff said later that it looks like the senior defensive end will redshirt. He's expressed a desire to come back, Wulff said, and be part of next year's team. As Kooyman played in just one game, he qualifies under the NCAA's injury redshirt rules. ... Two more things. Wulff talked about the lack of speed on defense and that it's not going to get better this year, but it's been an emphasis in recruiting and things will improve. ... Finally, Wulff was asked about Chip Kelly challenging the Cougars' touchdown with the score 45-0 and whether he agreed that it was kind of strange. "I would tend to agree with that too," Wulff said. "There were some things like that happen. You know, let me just say this. In my first season and a little bit, particularly in that game, there's been something that have happened. We're down right now, we know that. But there are some chips being thrown on our players and coaches' shoulders right now that we are going to carry with us for a while. So, we have a lot of motivation. And we're getting pieces of motivation from time to time and we'll have plenty of motivation moving forward." So you're going to remember this? "Yes."

• Couple other things from practice. Marshall Lobbestael took almost all the snaps with the offense today as Tuel rested his hip for most of practice. ... But, as Tuel said afterward, it looks as if the freshman will start. ... The same can't be said for middle linebacker Alex Hoffman-Ellis, who was not at practice. He has a staph infection and is doubtful for Saturday. The sophomore is third on the Cougars with 32 tackles. The guy who would replace him in the lineup, Louis Bland, is second (34). ... Andy Mattingly practiced sparingly today. I had asked Wulff if he was about 50 percent last Saturday, and Wulff said that was about right. Mattingly's right thigh is about two inches bigger than his left right now due to swelling from a bruise. Mattingly is getting better and will go Saturday.

• Now on to Tuel's thoughts. To me, they seemed about a week late, but we'll take what we can get. The freshman is just as composed in front of a half-dozen cameras as he is dealing with a rush. He said his leg loosened up during practice today, allowing him to do more than he thought he would. "I actually surprised myself out there," he said. "My plan originally was to come out and warm up, throw some balls around and see how I felt." He felt pretty good, took some snaps and expects to play. ... He's looking forward to starting at home. "We have a great chance to win this ballgame," he said, "and we all feel like we should win this game." The emphasis was his. ... All the young players participating excites Tuel. "There's some rebuilding taking place," he said. "It's only going to make us better in the future." ... The speed has taken some time to get used to, Tuel said, but it is the same game. "It's a little different when you go to take off to scramble, guys are closing in a lot faster. That's the big thing I notice." ... "I wasn't too nervous ... about my first start," Tuel also said. "It's something I've been doing my whole life, just playing the game. People are just bigger, stronger, faster. But so are our guys."

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• That's it for now. We'll be back in the morning with our usual stuff. Until then …




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Vince Grippi
Vince Grippi is a freelance local sports blogger for spokesman.com. He also contributes to the SportsLink Blog.

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